Tidal Stuck | By Judy Darley
Updated: Dec 19, 2020
Locals have called it the Banana Bridge ever since some bored councillor thought to have its inverted smile painted yellow. It joins the city side of the river with the quarter where Gael lives, close to the spice processing plant.
Gael inhales the comforting scent of coriander and marjoram, drawing it deep into her lungs. She chooses her spot over the mushroom-hued water, unzips her backpack and draws out the carefully wrapped package. Surely, she thinks, it should feel like something more in her hands, be heavier, beat out a pulse echoing her own.
It feels like nothing.
The hospital offered to incinerate it for her. She couldn’t bear the thought of it shrivelling in the heat, or of chucking it in the black wheelie bin or, god forbid, eating it, as some parenting forums advised.
She’d toyed with the idea of popping it in the food-recycling tub, ready to be composted for the city’s parks, but that too somehow seemed wrong.
Her breasts ache. She thinks of her son, waiting at home with his grandma for her to return.
The river with its tidal suck and ease makes sense to Gael. She’s weighted down the mound of flesh with shingle to prevent it resurfacing.
There’s nothing more to be done – no words she can think of. Gael raises her hands high above her head and throws the placenta as hard as she can. It arcs between yellow-painted struts towards the river’s murk.
With barely a splash, it disappears, swallowed up. Gael draws in a breath of spice-laced air, and exhales.
On the riverbank, wading birds tread around rusting bicycle wheels, pressing leafy prints into the mud.
Judy Darley is a British author can't stop writing about the fallibilities of the human mind. Her short fiction and journalism have been published and performed in the UK, US, Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand and India. She is Flash Fiction Editor at Reflex Press.Judy’s short story collection Sky Light Rain is out now from Valley Press.